The private option: Meet a potential victim of the Tea Party Nine

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THANKS OBAMA: Ellen Fant credits president for her new knee. Can't believe legislature would take insurance coverage (card) away. - PHIL GALEWITZ/KAISER HEALTH NEWS
  • Phil Galewitz/Kaiser Health News
  • THANKS OBAMA: Ellen Fant credits president for her new knee. Can't believe legislature would take insurance coverage (card) away.
If nine Tea Party senators (or 26 retrograde House members) defeat reauthorization of private option expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, the toll will be tens of thousands of working poor Arkansans, stripped of health insurance they just received.

Meet one of them, Ellen Louise Fant, 60, of Alexander, Ark., a teacher's aide whose story was told by Kaiser Health News.

Ellen Louise Fant was no fan of the Affordable Care Act.

“I don’t like to have anything shoved down my throat,” said Fant, 60, referring to the law’s requirement that most Americans carry health insurance.

Ellen Louise Fant, 60, of Alexander, Ark., signed up for Medicaid in January under the state’s private option

Then last fall, the former teacher’s aide got a letter from the state of Arkansas telling her that since she gets food stamps, she qualified for Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor, which is being expanded under the health law to cover those who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or up to $15,900 for an individual.

She signed a form, got back an insurance card Jan. 10 and days later, underwent the knee replacement surgery that she had needed for years but couldn’t afford.

The article examines the Arkansas model of Obamacare and its opponents in some depth. But it gets quickly to the bottom line of the fiscal session that begins today:

For Fant, the private option model means “peace of mind” because she can get the same care as those with higher incomes.

“While I personally do not like Obama … I say, ‘thank you for doing this for me,’” she said, showing her insurance card from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arkansas.

When told the legislature could end her newfound coverage July 1, her jaw dropped. “That would be very upsetting,” she said. “At least I had my knee done.”

RELATED: Georgia and Mississippi, under firmer Republican control than Arkansas, rejected Medicaid expansion. Now those states are considering spending state money to shore up hospitals not getting money they otherwise would have received under Obamacare. South Carolina has already taken similar action.

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